Children should be first priority
Children should be first
The Family Court reforms announced today must be actively monitored to assess their impact on vulnerable children, the Association of Counsellors says.
President, Jonathan Loan, says the needs of children caught up in parental disputes must be put first.
“The existing system, that has a heavy emphasis on early counselling, is working well and if these changes undermine that they have the potential to create real emotional problems for children.”
Mr Loan welcomed the establishment of a dispute resolution service but warned the service must include provision for assisting couples who want to stay together to resolve their issues.
“Counselling is one of the more effective means for doing this and it must be a core component of the new service.
“Not only does it benefit the couple and their children, but without it there is a huge risk of cost increases as a result of couples ending up in the more expensive court system.”
He said the Association would be keen to be consulted on the design and scope of the new dispute resolution service.
He said the NZAC will watch with interest to see an analysis of the effectiveness of the reforms.
“We have always felt there was no need for these reforms. The old system wasn’t broken; in fact it was working well for couples and their children.
“We’ll be very keen to see data that monitors not only the cost-effectiveness of these reforms, but also their ongoing effectiveness in terms of meeting the needs of families.”